An 8-year-old girl died after being detained by U.S. Border Patrol

A border patrol agent stands in front of a row of people seated at a wall.

A border patrol agent speaks to people who were apprehended in Yuma, Arizona on May 11 a the U.S. border as Title 42 expired. The agency said on Wednesday that an 8-year-old girl died after being detained. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

An 8-year-old girl died while in custody with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Texas, the agency said on Wednesday.

The child was being held with her family at the CBP station in Harlingen, Texas, when “she experienced a medical emergency,” the agency said. Emergency Medical Services transported her to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Information about the girl’s name and nationality was not immediately available.

The CBP said its internal affairs unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility, is conducting an investigation of the incident, as is standard protocol after an in-custody death.

The Harlingen station sits at the southern tip of Texas, a section of the border that’s seen an increase in migrant crossings over the last few weeks in anticipation of a return to old policies following the lifting of Title 42. The policy allowed officials to quickly turn back migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border over the last three years.

As of May 11, officials must detain or release people who cross the border. In anticipation of that policy change, CBP detained more than 28,000 migrants last week — far above official capacity.

For now, a federal judge in Florida has blocked the administration from releasing migrants into the U.S. without a court date. The ruling sparked concern from immigration officials, who said that holding migrants longer could lead to unsafe conditions.

The death comes just a week after a 17-year-old boy from Honduras died while being detained in Florida, at a facility for unaccompanied minors run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency did not release a cause of death.

The boy was the first migrant child to die in U.S. custody during the Biden administration, according to a report from NPR member station WLRN. At least six migrant children died in U.S. custody during the Trump administration.

In April, the CBP tracked 58,964 encounters with migrant families and 11,478 unaccompanied minors, according to data shared by the agency. CBP encounters with migrant families increased 28% between March and April.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal